All posts by Hillary Smith

Sex Talk Sundays with Hillary

Illustration by Hillary Smith / Xpress Magazine


Is dirty talk sexy?

Hey weird humanoids. Welcome back to Sex Talk Sundays. Did you miss us? We hope so! Today’s topic: “Is dirty talk sexy?”

Well, what do you think… is it? What even counts as dirty talk? Can you use it on anyone?

My opinion is that of course it can be sexy! It’s one of those things you’re going to have to feel out. And even once you dive in, there’s no guarantee you won’t be turned off by how they reply.


Person 1: “You’re so sexy, I just want to lick you all day.”

Person 2: “Oh baby, I want to eat you up like the double bacon cheeseburger I had for lunch, with extra chili fries!”

Person 1: “…Uhh…”  *end of all future sex scenes with Person 2*

That may be a crazy example, but I have heard weirder scenarios. From my experience with dirty talk, which honestly isn’t a ton, I’ve learned it’s better once I know the person pretty well. Mostly because it doesn’t seem to come from left field, and they have a hunch when to throw it in. That being said, the nature of dirty talk to me is supposed to be a bit surprising – that’s what makes it exciting.

You may know the person, but when they throw in a “I’m gonna **** you so hard,” or “I’m not going to stop until you can’t take it,” ….well, it is exciting. As long as you feel safe, of course. So when it comes to dirty talk, I don’t see any hard-and-fast rules. If you’re curious, the only way is to test it out. And part of testing it out is bracing yourself for however it goes.

Maybe they’ll get weird about it.  But maybe they’ll get into it, and then you’ll get more into it. And you’ll turn into crazy sex freaks who can’t stop talking dirty! And start adding “in beddddd” to everything you say!

No, don’t do that – that’s weird. But, I think it can really add to hot and heavy moments. If anything, hearing someone you’re messing around with tell you “harder,” or “I love that,” can only make you feel good. Unless you have a fetish for being insulted, which is another type of dirty talk.

I do think it’s worth exploring a few times in your life, if you haven’t given it a whirl yet. Otherwise, it’ll remain an untapped commodity in your life. It would be like never trying a shake with french fries.

And if you have never tried a shake with french fries, then you need to cry. But it’s okay, you can wipe your tears with shake fries.

Sex Talk Sundays: Does Age Matter?

Photo by Akiko Photography


Hey people of earth. Welcome back to Sex Talk Sundays. We took a break for… uh, well, spring break. Did you miss us? We hope so! Today’s topic: Does age matter?

I’m going to answer this question in terms of the age level affecting how good or bad the sex is.

Honestly, I’m young still and haven’t been with loads of people. Meaning, I can count them on two hands. However, the partners I’ve had cover a decent age spectrum, roughly 18 to mid thirties. And I can say what I’ve noticed based on this.

Most of the older ones were more confident, which is always sexier. They know what they want and (mostly) know how to ask what you do. However, I’ve experienced an exception before. Our age difference was only 6 years, they were 23, I was 18. And that was a train wreck of awkwardness.

They were unsure about what’s the best way to do this or that. They took zero initiative and so did I.  That was on me, I was pretty lost. To me it seems that age can play a part in the satisfaction of sex, but being older isn’t necessary for it to be good. Most older partners I’ve had happened to be more confident, they’d had more experience.

They’ve definitely been around longer at least. For me, it mostly is this confidence that makes a difference. And so, in my opinion, age can affect your bedroom experience with that person, only because older people tend to have more experience. But whether that person is 18 or 45, I believe it’s mostly in how they go about it all. How sure are they when they go for it? Do they know what they like and don’t?

At the very least, I like to make sure they are a tad less awkward than me.

Sex Talk Sundays with Hillary

Photo by Akiko Photography


Hey coolio people. Welcome back to Sex Talk Sundays with this weirdo. Today’s topic: “Sex! How Soon is Too Soon?”

Dating and relationships are odd these days. The internet lets me find a potential “bae” in the same amount of time it lets me find the closest taco. The taco being the more important commodity. Anyways, this accessibility to romance, hookups and everything in between makes this question all the more pertinent. When is the “right” time to sleep with someone?

Hookups are one thing – a fleeting event both parties have recognized as nothing more than a fling of (hopefully) hot, passionate sex. But dating is a different story. It’s essentially you and another person agreeing to seek out something more than sex. I feel that dating has become super casual, because you CAN find a date so easily. It’s almost “no big deal” anymore. I don’t mean it’s not romantic or sweet or real anymore. Just that it’s… not as big a deal. And because of that, sex isn’t seen as big a deal anymore. Or that’s how I feel people see it now.

Still, I have my own limits for how soon I will sleep with a person. I also think this is such an individual preference. One that depends on how you view sex and what you want out of it at any given time in your life. At it’s best, I think sex is like a Swiss army knife that can accomplish lots of wonderful things. It can make you feel amazing, physically. It can lighten your mood, mentally. And it can add incredible depth to the connection you have to someone you love.

Sometimes, a person just wants to feel physically good. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, they want to feel mentally good. Nothing wrong with that. But I want the whole enchilada. I want to feel good physically, mentally, AND I want to build a fucking insane connection with someone I care about. Which is why when it comes to sleeping with someone, I will go for all three, which also means most times it will be after I’ve “hung out” (look at me, being so casual about dating) with someone more than a few times. And probably I’ve seen them do something embarrassing. And probably they’ve seen me do about 10 embarrassing things, like trip over a suitcase on the sidewalk and face plant.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sleeping with someone on a first date. Maybe I will do that at some point in my life. But for now, I’m loving the trifecta.

What if Monsters Were Real?

Photo by Marlene Sanchez 

Artwork is hung on the wall at the Zero Friends store in San Francisco. Photo by Marlene Sanchez.
Artwork is hung on the wall at the Zero Friends store in San Francisco. Photo by Marlene Sanchez.

Fear is a black pit, and some dive headfirst.

For some, there is comfort in facing the horror and darkness of life. It’s better to acknowledge the fear and discomfort of situations than to pretend there’s nothing wrong.

When viewing local artist Alex Pardee’s drawings, there is a sense that something is wrong- horribly wrong. Creatures with sharp, elongated teeth and bodies create discomfort in the viewer. But often, onlookers are unable to look away. Maybe because the horrific drawings are simply creepy: skeletons with bones that melt, bodies whose mouths remain permanently twisted and cracked.

But probably a deeper reason the artist garnered so many fans is because the horror that lives inside his drawings resonates with people. Everyone has been trapped by their own bad thoughts and feelings at one point.

“I think the darkness is part of what I love about it,”said Claudia Graham, 20, a San Francisco resident and fan of Pardee’s art. “His work actually inspired me greatly in multiple ways at very difficult times in my life.”

Pardee was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression at the age of 14. His short stay in a mental hospital gave him an intimate view of what it’s like to feel tortured. He began to transfer his anxiety and depression onto paper. His upsetting thoughts and feelings were transformed into sharp-toothed creatures with “bodies” that dripped off the page. He began drawing creatures with oversized jaws and twisted lips. Beings with sagging, dripping cheeks and bulging eyes.

“I’m really compelled by the way his artwork is vibrant yet creepy and even sometimes a little vulgar,” Graham said. “I love the way he brings his creatures to life and that he even wrote stories to go along with some of them.”

Pardee has drawn in this genre of horror art for 24 years now. Beginning with designing T-shirts, the illustrator moved on to writing comics, and eventually became the art director for hardcore band The Used. Pardee’s career took a whole new turn in the early 2000s, when he created the character “Chadam,” who starred in a self-titled 3-D, animated episodic movie for Warner Bros.

Shortly after, he created art and set work for movie Sucker Punch. His prints brought the viewer into a fantasyland of ass-whooping, evil, beautiful women with large guns and swords.

Zero Friends, his store/gallery at 419 Haight Street features shirts, posters, and prints of his demented art.

Alex Pardee’s artwork is displayed at the Zero Friends store on Haight St. in San Francisco. Photo by Marlene Sanchez.
 Alex Pardee's artwork is displayed at the Zero Friends store on Haight St. in San Francisco. Photo by Marlene Sanchez.

Alex Pardee’s artwork is displayed at the Zero Friends store on Haight St. in San Francisco. Photo by Marlene Sanchez.

Pardee collaborates with other stores in the area for fairs and special events. He is partnered with  Upper Playground, a clothing store in Haight known for its clean-looking beanies, sweat-wear, and backpacks.

But the business side of things is only so interesting to the illustrator, who has a tough time remaining stagnant for any length of time.   Recently, Pardee helped create a mockumentary- style horror film that incorporates his twisted creatures. In the film Digging up the Marrow, fans are able to see a real-life version of the creepy figures, in a plot that seeks to prove that monsters do exist.

“This might be the most surreal and cool thing that has ever happened to me,” Pardee said in a recent Instagram post about the movie.  The film, starring Ray Wise, Will Barret and filmmaker Adam Green reached movie theaters Feb. 20. Pardee and filmmaker Adam Green went on a mini-tour to five cities where they showed pre-screenings.

Pardee is a true believer in the world of horror.

“I think monsters exist somewhere we can’t see,” he said in the films introduction. “When we do find monsters, I just want to be there to be like ‘I told you so.’”

Digging up the Marrow will resonate if you’re someone whose ever sought out adventure or searched for thrill.

But it is not meant to comfort you. The film will scare you with terrible demons who are entirely real, and they do not remain in the dark for very long – they will seek you.

Fans are able to see Pardee’s 2-D monsters in a weird, new way.

“I always wondered what they look like,” said Alejandro Mendoza, a fan who attended the Berkeley screening of the film in February. “It was great. I’ve always loved dark things It was like a whole other world.” But, as always in Pardee’s work, there is beauty in this darkness. The horrific journey is mostly scary, not because of the monsters with sharp teeth and gaping holes for eyes. The film is terribly chilling because it proves what the viewer knew all along. Monsters are real, no matter what they look like. And they are waiting, hands shaking, jaws unhinged.

Sex talk Sundays with Hillary

Illustration by Pamela Coleman-Smith


Sex tapes, yay or nah?

Welcome back to Sex Talk Sundays. I wonder how many times you’ve thought about sex this week. Was it a lot? Well, you’re about to again, because this week’s topic is sex tapes… ohh, scandalous.

This is only my take. Have you ever logged on Facebook, seen that you had about 20 notifications, then clicked on them to find a photo of yourself mid-talk, eyes half open with about ten chins? Imagine that, but instead of finding that unflattering single photo, you discover a 10-minute gem of you and your partner twisting weirdly around with each other trying to look sexy. The angles are horrible, the lighting is horrible and the whole thing looks like a drawn-out spoof of some awkward American Pie scene.

Therein lie the two reasons I can’t see myself ever making a sex tape in the near future: leakage of the video, and the realization of how painfully awkward you may truly look while in the throes of hot, sweaty passion. We all have those moments when we feel like a million bucks. The air is blowing your hair back, you’re rocking some sweet-ass shirt, and you haven’t tripped in at least two blocks (Uh, that’s just me then?). Or you’re with someone, getting diggity down, and you just feel hot, because the moment is hot. That’s amazing, actually. And so I understand the impulse to record that moment. To capture that sexiness you’re feeling so you can dwell and revel in it later. It’s just that later it probably won’t look too hot, and may end up chilling your sex life. I want mine scalding hot!

If you’re the type who doesn’t care how you look in photos at all or who sees those photos, then friggen have at it! And have fun. And I’m a little bit jealous. But at least I can be my nerdy self and know that I’ll never log on to Facebook to find that horror film starring me titled Sex: Nice Try!

Sex Talk Sundays with Hillary

Illustration by Pamela Coleman Smith


It’s about time we got the fun sex talk back into Xpress Magazine. It’s a rite of passage on any college campus! Why ignore something many of us think about so often, anyway? We don’t want it to be this weird, exciting, scary topic that’s ignored — we want it to be this weird, exciting, scary topic that we all talk about, that we address. We’ve read about the hookups and sexual escapades on campus that are dumped all over the SF State confessions page. We have seen the hand-carved declarations on the bathroom walls: “I rocked his world in this stall.” So we’re going to talk about it from a guy’s perspective and a girl’s view. We’re going to lay out our experiences and honest opinions about hook-ups, awkward sexual encounters, scary adventures, misunderstandings — all of it, from both Jay’s and Hillary’s perspective. We’re going to make Sundays sexy. And if there’s something you’d like to hear about, write a comment or send an email.

And with that, welcome to the first post for this column! Today’s topic: Have you ever faked an orgasm?

I have faked an orgasm once, maybe twice before. Not because I wasn’t into the person or they couldn’t make me feel good. But because, for some reason, it wasn’t happening. And I could tell they were trying. I faked it because I could tell they wanted to make me feel really amazing. And I don’t regret faking it either. Here’s why. When somebody makes me something, or does something nice for me, I want to say thank you. I want to show them I value the effort they put in.

So I faked the big O only in situations where 1. I cared about the person, and relationship, and 2. Nine times out of ten, they were able to get me there, easily. Every once in a while, a person will fake it, and in my experience, it doesn’t mean much.

This isn’t crazy. We all do it… with everything. We fake liking entrees loved ones made us. We fake having a good time at a movie that our best was dying to see. I gave my best friend a gag gift for Christmas. And when she opened the horrendous jewelry, “hair mascara” (yes, it’s a real thing) and neon bright lipstick, she did something insane. She planted a huge smile on her face, grabbed me for a hug, and thanked me. She was faking it.

Is it so much more “immoral” to fake this, simply because it’s sexual?

I’m not saying we should fake it often. And I’m also not saying that we should have a sexual relationship with a person who can’t make you float in bed. Because, seriously, I’m all about being fulfilled in that way. But on rare occasions, when they’re trying, trying and it’s still not happening, I don’t see anything wrong with faking it just that one time. I rather pretend once than make them feel like they aren’t great. If the next time you two go at it, and still nothing, that’s a different story. I’d say, “I’m sorry, babe, but… just, not feeling that. Let’s try it this way.” Because that’s not so hard either.

Three College Students’ Anti Beer Review

Photo by Hillary Smith


Beer Week is currently happening and San Francisco has gone crazy, yet again.

Close to 2,000 people purchased tickets for the Opening Gala at Fort Funston Feb. 6, which featured ales, pilsners and lagers from 80 different breweries. Local restaurants even joined in on the madness, too. Cathead’s BBQ on Folsom Street infused Headlands Brewing Co.’s Hill 88 into their delicious lamb meatball sandwiches. Peter Rizos from the San Francisco Cheesecake Company infused Abyss brew by Deschutes Brewing into his cheesecake.

So, naturally, we wanted in on the fun. We (tried to) review five beers total from three local breweries that participated in the fiasco.


Anchor Steam

-Breckle’s Brown Ale, 6%

-Saison Spring Ale, 7.2%


-Big Daddy IPA, 6.5%

-Scarlett, 5.5%

 21st Amendment

-Brew Free or Die IPA, 7%


Here’s what we thought.

courtesy of



Anchor Steam’s Breckle’s Brown, 6% came out the winner of the five local brews. The malt single hop brown ale went down smooth, was nice and refreshing. Comments included “smooth”, “delectable” and “fruity”. Not overwhelming. Scored average of 4.5 out of 5 with these professional college beer-drinkers. The red color is very pleasing to the eye…one odd commenter said. The consensus we came to about Anchor Steam was that it’s not your favorite brew right off the bat, but once your palate is used to the brand, something amazing happens. That amazing thing is the breweries Brekle’s Brown. This is not a message condoning drinking, but…try it now!

[At this point, we decided to call a spade a spade and retire our professional beer reviewer hats. Instead of trying to fake the lingo and come up with something profound, we just sat back and recorded our candid reactions. We thought you’d find this funnier. ]



Second place in the contest was Anchor Steam’s Saison 


courtesy of
courtesy of

Craig: OMG, I really like that. Almost tastes like a hint of bbq. I feel like I just ate bbq flavored chips.

Reuben: I don’t know why, I think it’s just like tasting crap bitter. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Spring ale.

C:… I feel like this would be a good summer beer. It seems lighter to me, and just goes down smooth. I don’t know, it doesn’t have a lot of spices, I think.

Hillary: This is really the time I’m realizing we don’t have the skills to review beer.

C: I definitely don’t have much of a beer palate. Not much of a wine palate either.

R: I think this is thin bodied. It just goes down really smooth. So that’s a way to describe it, it’s thin bodied.

C: Not hoppy… that’s my extent of describing beer.

R: Here’s another one.. “ester-y”. It’s flowery, a combination of flowery and fruity.

H: Where did you come up with that word?

R: I’m looking at a beer dictionary…. just say “fruity”… “ester-y”.

…Would you call it salty? Or tart?

C: Not tart, I wouldn’t say tart.

R: Would you say reminiscent of wine?

C: Um..I don’t…

R …with a slight vine-y flavor..

C: It’s more reminiscent of wine than other beers I’ve had.

H: What does that mean?

C: Ha ha ha, pfft. I don’t know, I’m just talking out of my ass. I still stand by the fact that I feel like it evokes a bbq flavor…it’s smokey, I don’t know what it is.

H: It’s not smokey.

C: That’s my personal opinion. People need to know that I’m not an expert, so..

R: What’s the mouth feel? How does taste in your mouth.. thin? Watery? Could a person drink multiple of these and not get super drunk?

H: Could you do that?

R: Probably.

 Next came Speakeasy’s Big Daddy

by Flickr user Yumi Kimura
by Flickr user Yumi Kimura

C: OMG you can smell the hops.

R: Thin and hoppy.

C: That’s true. It’s almost dry…It cuts through! It cuts through my heart!

R: Definitely flowery. You can taste the flowers.

H: What flower is it?

R: Hop. Hop plant, that’s kind of like a flower. Hops are flowers. That’s why it’s flowery.

C: It kind of looks like the color of pee of someone who is super, super, super dehydrated, like to the point of death, probably.

R: There goes my trying to be healthy…

Third was 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA

by Flickr user Brave Heart
by Flickr user Brave Heart

H: Rueben, did you drink it already? We were supposed to review it.

R: Ha ha ha, oh! What were we drinking?

C: I would say it hoppy-ish. Not “super” hoppy, but like mid. Hoppy. Its lighter-ish. What do u think Reuben?

H: Well he already drank it, so I don’t think he remembers ?

R: It had a lingering head.

H: What’s a head?

R: The foam.

C: It’s not my fave, but I can deal.

R: I would skip child support payments to purchase one of these beers.

And…dead last was Speakeasy’s Prohibition Scarlett

courtesy of


C: Uggh, this one’s dark.

R: It’s a red ale! Kind of spicy. It’s spicy, but kind of thick. Definitely thick.

C: Okay, wait. I’m chewing a carrot.

R: Thick, spicy with a good amount of bitterness.

C: It’s definitely darker, there more spices in there than other beers we tried. Hoppy.

R: Hoppy? I don’t think there’s hops in it.

H: It kind of tastes like chocolate.. you know cocoa.

R: I’m in love with the coco, coco. You know that song?

H: Yes

R: Fantastic review, told me how terrible I am at identifying beers. Eye-opening to me. Maybe it’s just because I like all beers.




SF State talks Valentine’s Day

Photo by Hillary Smith


Valentine’s Day makes people weird. Like, extra angry or extra lovey dovey. Some fill the holiday with fancy desserts and meals and end it wrapped in someone’s arms like a fucking ball of yarn. Some spend a long time talking about how lame it is, and how it’s all product placement and a marketing holiday. Like, “Duh, can’t you see that man? It’s the government!” But we wanted to hear what you thought of it. So two of us went around campus to get your opinion on the chocolate-giving lover-kissing people-bitching holiday. Here’s what you said.


Super Bowl snacking: Yes, we are gross.

Enjoy your pizza on Superbowl Sunday. Photo by wEndy/Creative Commons
Enjoy your pizza on Super Bowl Sunday. Photo by wEndy/Creative Commons


Super Bowl weekend is one of the hardest weekends of the year to try and eat healthy. So don’t.

I’m not saying fast food is the best dietary choice we could make. It’s just that there’s no use in trying to go all #detoxcleanselife on Super Bowl Sunday. Eating normal-sized portions might be the closest we can get. This is bigger than us!

Papa John’s is literally giving away free pizzas if the game goes into overtime, bacon grease and extra cheese goo included. Jack in the Box created a new “butter burger”, now available to the public with an option to “bacon and swiss” it. Really, they should have gone with a more accurate name, like “ Our new Paula Deen Burger…eat up, then cry!

Oh, and Carl’s Jr. is promoting its new natural burger…which, judging from the commercial, is about the size of an adult head. This all means two things: a) We’re in a America, and b) it’s Super Bowl time.

We can get a million toppings on our pizza. And we can fill the crusts with cheese and then add extra cheese on top and then probably have it deep fried. We have four-patty burgers at In-n-Out. We have shakes at Chick-fil-A ranking upwards of 700 calories.

Jack in the Box's new buttery jack. Photo provided by Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box’s new buttery jack. Photo provided by Jack in the Box

This fast food buffet is terrible, though sometimes delicious, and we absolutely shouldn’t be eating this stuff.

But, Super Bowl Sunday just isn’t the day to wage the war on obesity. It’s not the time to rise up righteously with our homemade kale chips and chia-seeded crackers. If we’re being real, we know the obesity problem in the U.S. has plenty other avenues we can fight through…like funding for public school lunches and nutrition education. Or regulation on the number of fast food locations in a single neighborhood.

It’s true, triple cheese pizza, buffalo wings, nachos and beer are probably some of the worst things we can consume as humans on the planet…excluding non-edible things like a Justin Beiber record or a four-hour class on cross-stitching. Unhealthy food is unhealthy – you’re damn right. I just think if you are the one bringing your gluten-free flax seed pita roll to the party, you are the worst and you need to stop. If you think Super Bowl Sunday snacking is awful and should be stopped, then don’t eat six slices of Papa John’s “Double Bacon 6 Cheese” pizza. Don’t eat 15 chicken wings. Don’t eat bacon-wrapped bacon! Super Bowl snacking is going to happen. Millions of pizzas will be ordered. Nachos will be wolfed down. beers guzzled, and the world will continue to revolve in its normal state. Save the healthier eating pitch for a day when most of the country isn’t surrounded by our own grossness in the form of bread, meat and cheese.

Just for today, leave your seaweed-wrapped celery at home. Don’t make it weird.

Practice Makes Perfect

Geoff Luttrell, owner of SF Guitarworks in San Francisco, works on a guitar. (Henry Perez/ Xpress Magazine)
Geoff Luttrell, owner of SF Guitarworks, works on a guitar. (Henry Perez/ Xpress Magazine)

Geoff Luttrell crouches at his workbench, squinting hard at the neck of the soon-to-be guitar he is drilling holes in.

Luttrell has owned SF Guitarworks repair shop in the city since 2001. It began as a small-scale operation, headed by Luttrell and one other technician. More than a decade later, the shop is home to five full-time guitar experts and one part-time amp repairman. Collectively, they serve a base of more than three hundred.

He opened the shop more than ten years ago after being laid off from a tech job. His reaction was a bit eccentric.

“I decided I’m not going to ever interview again,” he says. “I’m never interviewing for another job. Period.”

After receiving subpar service from repair shops in the city, he decided that he could do it better. So that became his mission. He attended The Fret Works guitar school in Canada for two months, then came back to the city, determined to begin his own shop. Though he had the drive, he admits his strategy wasn’t full proof.

“It was a pretty feeble plan, really,” he says. “My sole market research was calling a busy shop in town and saying ‘How long to get a setup done?’”

When he was told a guitar tune-up for his instrument would take three weeks, Luttrell decided there was enough work in town to draw from. He was already a machinist who had built bicycle frames, and had worked as a certified auto technician in the city. These building blocks would add depth to his work, he decided.

Besides, he wanted to do something he enjoyed and would challenge him. And it has.

Just as he hoped, the complexities of starting a business and of navigating detailed guitar repairs challenged Lutrell in almost every way possible. Many customers have collections of guitars and come to the shop for fine-tuning, and detail work.

Often, the tasks are not straightforward, like simple restringing or part replacements. But he enjoys finding the solution to each guitar and takes pleasure in the hunt for some unknown mechanical issue.  He loves repairing guitars.

“It encompasses so many different aspects of craft: woodworking, metalwork, electronics, soldering, electrical schematics, finish-work and aesthetics,” he says. “It pulls from a lot of different aspect I have expertise in. And then you use it for something awesome – music.”

Sometimes, the mechanist will work on one guitar for a few days. Other times, like for a simple tune-up, the task requires only forty-five minutes. But for Luttrell, there is not exactly an off-switch when it comes to his work. To his best estimation, he has worked on at least seven thousand guitars.

He says he has tried to picture what it would look like if all the instruments he has done work on were in one room – or if they would even fit in one.

“There’s a lot of blurring in my world,” he says. “When I go home, I build guitars for fun, and I work on guitars all day. So it’s kind of insane, really.

He has done work for guitarists Steve Vai, Bob Mould, and Camper Van Beethoven. But, he does not geek out, he says. When he has assisted famous musicians like these, his mindset is more of a “let’s get this done” versus some type of hero worship. Still, the mechanic is a huge fan of Van Halen and Beck. Luttrell played bass and guitar in more than a few bands as a teenager, whose music was a tribute to exactly their type of power and sound.   

For the amount of time Luttrell spends with the instruments each day, he has very little time to actually play them. That does not bother him too much though. His appreciation of music has shifted over the years. He still plays bass or guitar from time to time, but he rather be working on one now; making it sound better and play smoother, he would rather be perfecting it.

The craft has a lot of dimension, Luttrell points out. Some repairs are completely invisible. One of the most challenging, but fun, aspects of his work is the accountability he has to his customers. When a customer comes in about an issue with their guitar, Luttrell assesses the problem and then a guarantees them he can fix it right up. This can get scary.

Occasionally, a mechanical problem is so minute or complex, he does not exactly know where to start. Nonetheless, Luttrell offers his guarantee. This would seem like bad business, but this has worked for him and his shop. So far, he has been able to figure out every problem a customer has trusted him with.  But Luttrell’s love of his work goes farther than making customers happy. His work has added dimension to his life, but it has also done something beautifully simple – added music to the world.

“It’s added a depth that I didn’t have before because I have this craft that I think is a noble and long tradition,” he says. “I feel like Luthiery adds to the world. It doesn’t take away.”

Faded Finds: a mobile fashion boutique

San Francisco residents invade Dolores Park every weekend to soak up the sun (when it is around) and visit with friends. Vendors sell jewelry, soap and crafts from small booths or vehicles lining the park.

On a recent Sunday, a large Dodge van was parked alongside the grass at Dolores—and inside was something radder than hand-made necklaces and rosemary soap.

Faded Finds is a mobile vintage clothing store, owned by two young entrepreneurs, Dayna Carter and Dennis Long. Vintage T-shirts, dress shirts, coats, pants, and shoes filled the seats and back of their van. Outside, an awning shaded the variety of handpicked clothes. The apparel ranged from casual muscle tanks and baggy windbreakers, to collared dress shirts.

And the trendy threads got attention—many walking through Dolores stopped at the stand to peruse the racks.

Carter, twenty-four, and Long, twenty-three, launched the mobile business because they wanted change.

They were tired of menial part-time jobs. So about a month ago, the fashion enthusiasts bought a Dodge Van and started something they were not sure would work.

Long, twenty-three, is from Napa, while Carter, twenty-four, hails from Riverside. The two met years ago at and decided that life was too short to not reach for something they wanted.

Instead of waiting for careers to pan out, the two took to the road, visiting vintage stores everywhere they could find them.  Currently, they sell mostly men’s clothing, but hope to expand it to all genders soon. The pair has done two mobile tours since purchasing the Dodge, and  is experimenting with social media to grow clientele.

They plan to be in the Bay Area quite often when they have the time, to keep up the mobile shop and purchase new clothing from bigger vintage stores. Long and Carter are not sure if the business will be a gold-mine, but they are excited to see where it goes.

Starting a business, however small, can be extremely daunting. Watch the video below to hear what advice these young adults have for anyone afraid to take a chance.



You’ll be fit, just watch

Laura Devine runs on the track wearing her Fitbit Thursday September 25, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Laura Devine runs on the track wearing her Fitbit Thursday September 25, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Apple’s watch is coming, and soon we will all be fit.

Of course, that is exaggerating. Not everyone will buy the new watch and magically be more fit. But people are interested in this marriage of tech and fitness. So interested, it is now a $330 million dollar industry. The new Apple product, set to be on the market in early 2015, will work as an extension to the iPhone. From the watch, users can view the information they already monitor daily, like messages, events, maps, and email – all from their wrist. It might not sound much different other smartwatches, like the Pebble, but this data will also include statistics we are not exactly used to seeing on the same screen as our text messages.

The watch will come in two sizes, 1.4 inches by 1.6 inches, and 1.2 inches by 1.5 inches. It will be available in stainless steel, aluminum – even gold. The bands come in a few varieties as well, including a sports style and leather. A digital “crown,” or knob, located on the side of the watch will be the main control feature, allowing users to switch through texts, events, and maps by turning or pressing it down.

The band tracks movement, heart rate, minutes spent standing instead of sitting, and even calories burned. And if it did not have your heart before, it does now. It also allows users a more intimate type of communication by the ability to feel a friend’s live heartbeat on their own watch.

Other companies have already capitalized on this type of data collection. Fitbit’s bands inform users of steps taken, calories burned, level of activity throughout the day, and even their sleep cycle. The company’s most basic trackers starts at $60 and cap at $100 for the most comprehensive tracker that also monitors sleep cycles. Jawbone’s wristband called “UP” does all of the same things and can even work with a third-party application to give users “nudges” throughout the day when it senses they are close to a goal.

Misfit released one of the most affordable activity trackers yet this past September. Like UP and Fitbit, Misfit’s wristband, called “Flash,” also tracks calories, distance, and sleep, but for only $50.

SF State senior Laura Devine jogs and lifts weights about five days out of the week. She bought a Fitbit Flex in June because it seemed to suit her lifestyle.

“I’m one of those people who’s very aware of what they’re eating and their fitness,” she says. “And it seemed appealing. It tracks steps, distance. It helps you set up goals, it tracks your sleep.”

But the real value of the band is in the data aggregation. Devine views all of her up-to- date fitness statistics from her computer. It is easy and interesting to view, she says.

Her Fitbit Flex has also revealed things about herself she never thought about before. “I don’t think people realize how much time we spend sitting around doing nothing,” she says. “ It allows you to see, ‘Oh, wow, I was a bum that day.’ Fitbit is this reminder to get up and get moving, and it congratulates you when you do.”

Though innovative and comprehensive, Apple Watch is a bit late to the game. Rather than jumping in and quickly producing any type of band just to compete, the company planted its feet and waited. So, in typical Apple fashion, when the product is released next year, it will be inclusive and likely done right. And in January, many will probably line up at the doors for the watch because of the name behind it and quality guarantee they expect. Others will clamor for the product because of its non-fitness-related features, like reading texts and getting directions.





But some will buy this for another reason: they now believe that their health – like finances and messages – is important and easy enough to monitor daily. This could be the starting point of a mass culture shift.

MobiHealthNews reported the fitness device market to be worth $330 million at the end of 2013. And research suggests it will reach $2 billion worldwide by 2018, according to the same report.

Wearable fitness technology could seriously change how we maintain our health. Instead of asking the doctor how you are doing, you will be able to see for yourself – and you will know the specifics. You will know that three days out of the week, you sit most of the day, and on those same days, your level of brisk activity hits an all-time low.

The purpose of these gadgets is to get people moving, but the strategy is upfront and personal. For the first time ever, people are seeing proof of what they did or did not do that day. They can see how much time they spent sitting at a desk or in front of a television. These customized, real-time updates are appealing to many, the numbers show.

It is impossible to gauge the positive long-term effects in health so early in the game. But recent data from Fitbit showed that its users increased their number of steps taken in a day by 43 percent on average since they began using the devices.

The trend is making waves in the business world as well.

Derek Newell, Chief Executive Officer of JIFF, a technology firm that provides digital health tools to companies, has seen an improvement. Speaking at a consumer electronics show earlier this year, he says that digital technology has improved employee wellness programs and lowered the cost of the company’s overall investment. He attributes this to the active, “real-time” nature of the applications.

But not everyone is excited about this high-tech form of fitness tracking. Freshman Martin K. does weight lifting a few times a week and he is hesitant to use wearable fitness trackers.

“I’m just not used to it,” he says. “It’s sort of new, and it takes time for someone to adopt it. I don’t feel comfortable wearing something like that when I work out. I don’t think I would find it useful.”

So not everyone is won over, and will sink $50 or more into a gadget simply because it is the next “it thing.” Still, the industry is steadily growing.

But with a company like Apple endorsing wearable fitness tech, it does not sound so crazy to say this trend could change things – in health and in healthcare.

James Milligan, community manager at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, says if the devices can do what they are intended to do, he expects a reduction in healthcare bills. But wearables are not the only a piece of the puzzle.

As of now, the watch is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but that could change if lots of consumers with serious health conditions begin to depend on the watch for aid.

“Anything that gets people moving, like a Fitbit is a great idea,” Milligan says. “Whether it will reduce healthcare costs in the future… I presume it will if people can invest in healthy eating and active living.”

So Apple’s watch is coming early next year. We will be able to send our heartbeats to other users, we will be able to view our distance walked, and we will be able to see the number of times we stood up in the day.

But the milestone is bigger than Apple’s next “it” product. We will soon monitor our health as easily as we do our text messages.